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Nucleus colony sales 2021

Four Cousins Honey (FCH) will likely have a limited number of 4-frame nucleus colonies (nucs) for sale this beekeeping season.

Price = $300 including a marked queen (white for 2021).*

For information about what to expect from a nuc provider, see Are you buying nucs this spring?

For comparative information about nuc prices across Canada, see Comparison of nuc prices across Canada, spring 2021

FCH beekeeper, Peter Armitage, has successfully overwintered honey bee colonies without loss for six consecutive winters, and is in his seventh season of beekeeping.  He does not consider himself an experienced beekeeper.  He cannot guarantee that nucleus colony queens have been well mated.  He does not manage enough colonies for a full-fledged breeding program, but he does not breed or sell nucs from weak or aggressive colonies or any that are hard on winter stores.  Drones derive from his mating/summer apiary and 2-3 neighbouring apiaries.  However, he has no control over the genetics of the colonies in these neighbouring apiaries.

FCH stock derives primarily from nucs and queens purchased from Newfoundland Bee Company and G&M Family Farm.

Biosecurity is a high priority for FCH. No swarms or cut-outs from the Avalon Peninsula or other high-risk pest and pathogen transmission regions of NL are accepted into  our apiaries. In order to maintain genetic diversity, nucleus colonies and queens are occasionally introduced to FCH stock, but are obtained ONLY from experienced beekeepers elsewhere in the province who respect appropriate biosecurity protocols.   Having taken the Bee Master program at UBC (February 2020), and having read extensively about honey bee health, we have a good understanding of important honey bee diseases and pests including American foulbrood, European foulbrood, chalkbrood, sacbrood virus, nosemosis, small hive beetle, and Varroa destructor. All colonies are monitored for diseases and pests during weekly inspections throughout the beekeeping season. 

FCH colonies have been tested for Varroa using the alcohol wash method with a sampling rate of three colonies per 10 per apiary.  In addition, one colony is monitored for Varroa routinely at the mating/summer apiary using the sticky board method.

FCH apiaries are registered with the provincial apiarist and are open to inspection by her.

*Newfoundland Bee Company and G&M Family Farm charged the same price for their nucs.

How nucs are made

In 2021, nucleus colonies were made by “splitting” strong colonies in Langstroth deeps (i.e., with 8+ frames of brood) and building 5-frame nucs with a frame of honey, frame of pollen, frame of capped brood, frame of open brood (eggs, larva), a frame of undrawn foundation, and lots of nurse bees (shaken from a full brood frame into the nuc box). A ¼ lb of pollen substitute was added for insurance to increase the probability that queen larvae are well nourished.  Future queen quality is highly dependent on nutrition during the larval stage of development.  

A frame of honey, three frames of brood, and all of the bees in the 5-frame nuc box are transferred to the 4-frame corrugated plastic nuc box one day prior to pickup by customers. The 4-frame box is sealed with 1/8 inch hardware cloth (screen) in the evening prior to pickup to ensure that foragers have returned to the colony.

Conditions

Orders will be accepted first come first serve.  However, priority will be given to established hobby beekeepers who have successfully overwintered their colonies for two years, and novice beekeepers who can demonstrate that they have done their basic beekeeping homework (e.g., taken a course, read quality beekeeping literature, etc.).  Novices will be asked to answer some elementary beekeeping questions in order to determine if they are ready to start the craft.  This is a matter of responsible animal husbandry.  In addition, 

  • Nucs will be sold only to people who have registered their apiaries with the provincial apiarist.  Purchasers will be asked to provide proof of registration prior to sale. This is a biosecurity matter. See https://fourcousinshoney.ca/data/documents/arguments-re-mandatory-registration-2019-2.pdf  To register your apiaries, see https://www.gov.nl.ca/releases/2021/ffa/0610n13/
  • A photo of the marked queen in the 4-frame nuc box will be provided to the purchaser.
  • All sales are final. No money back. No returns. The purchaser is entirely responsible for the proper installation of the nucleus colony and its management thereafter including the proper care of the queen.  The purchaser accepts all risk of colony loss or less-than-optimal growth.   Purchasers are required to sign a waiver accepting these conditions.
  • Purchasers must pick up their nuc(s) at Three Mile Ridge Country Store in Lethbridge, Highway 230, Bonavista Peninsula, at the scheduled time (to be determined by FCH).  Nucs are not delivered to customers.
  • FCH cannot provide mentoring or other support services to its customers.

Disclosure

To-date, the FCH operation has been almost 100% self-financed (hive components, nuc purchase, feed, honey processing equipment, etc.). However, FCH received a $3,000 grant in 2020 under the NL Honey Bee Development Program to purchase an electric fence charger, queen cell incubator and microscope.